Skip to comments.Congress’ Present Duty to Call a Convention. (Part I)
Posted on 11/12/2014 10:42:50 AM PST by Jacquerie
Full title: Lawful and Peaceful Revolution: Congress Present Duty to Call a Convention for Proposing Amendments.
The solution to Americas problems is to be found within the American tradition. Fabian socialism, fascism, islam are foreign imports. As varieties of Utopian statism, they not only offer no reasonable solutions, they are hostile to our cultural DNA. They ignore four hundred years of customs, beliefs, and replace them with oppressive forms unfit for free society and contradictory to free government.
This 1990 treatise examines the history of Article V from its conceptual beginning in the Articles of Confederation through the 1787 Federal Convention, and the various State Ratification Conventions. It ends in appendices which lists hundreds of State applications. In between, the authors examine Article Vs purpose, the role of the States, single v. multiple amendments, the role of Congress, Congressional attempts to block it, the amendment convention itself, and Congress failure to call the convention.
In the back and forth over what the Framers finally settled on in Article V, even a casual scan of James Madisons notes shows the incredible care with which the convention composed the Constitution. They knew that State ratifying conventions would dissect every clause in a search for flaws. They knew they had to work to exhaustion to produce the best possible design of government which history and their experience could devise.
There is nothing happenstance in Article V. It is a beauty of careful wordsmithing. It means precisely what it says.
My intent is to paraphrase the authors work, in perhaps three or four postings separated a week or so apart. Comments hereafter preceded by JQ are mine. Everything else is from the authors. Their treatise gets just far enough into the weeds to be informative, yet avoids being too laborious. Freepers are encouraged to open and print the source document for reference. Get to know the history of Article V.
Page 1. The Constitution of any government which cannot be regularly amended when its defects are experienced, reduces the people to this dilemma--they must either submit to its oppressions, or bring about amendments, more or less, by a civil war. Happy this, the country we live in! The Constitution before us, if it be adopted, can be altered with as much regularity, and as little confusion, as any act of Assembly; not, indeed, quite so easily, which would be extremely impolitic; but it is a most happy circumstance, that there is a remedy in the system itself for its own fallibility, so that alterations can without difficulty be made, agreeable to the general sense of the people. James Iredell, NC Ratifying Convention 1788.
JQ: For American colonists, no such option existed under the British Constitution. Our choices were submission or enslavement. What are our choices today?
3. Through Article V the American people declared the right to lawful and peaceful revolution.
Article V: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first an fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
4. The special interest of this paper is the duty of Congress to call a convention upon the application of two-thirds of the State legislatures.
JQ: Todays post focuses on the evolution of Article V at the Federal Convention. For reading ease, I emboldened the iterations that concluded in Article V.
5. The Articles of Confederation set up a pure federal system. Each state had one vote in a Congress, and nine were needed to make policy on important matters such as war, treaties, and money matters. Unanimous consent was necessary to alter an Article of the union.
7. The idea of an amending process in constitutions was peculiar to America. Several state constitutions and the Articles of Confederation contained them.
Article XIII of the Confederation: Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a congress of the united States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.
Charles Pinckney of SC spoke for many when he said, it is to this unanimous consent, the depressed situation of the Union is undoubtedly owing. Rhode Island did not send delegates to the convention.
JQ: Rhode Island had twice refused consent to a limited source of revenue to the Confederation.
8. Realism and experience substituted for idealism at the convention, to wit:
May 29th 1787. Resolution 13 of the Virginia Plan reflected this realism: Resolved that provision ought to be made for the amendment of the Articles of Union whensoever it shall seem necessary, and that the assent of the National Legislature ought not to be required thereto.
JQ: Consider how far we had come in only eleven years since declaring our independence. The development of this unique American proviso, that the people had the right to legally and peacefully go outside their government to secure their rights was staggeringly radical.
9. From the start, the amending process didnt require unanimous State consent. Second, the amendment proposal submitted by the governor of the largest state would preclude participation of the new government in the process.
10. Not surprisingly, there was tension between those who wished to isolate the amendment proposal process to either the States or Congress.
11. This tension was evident on June 11th, when delegates considered Resolution 13. George Mason was certain the new plan would in time be found defective. If chance and violence were to be avoided, provision for amendments in an easy, regular way was imperative. It would be improper to require the consent of the national legislature, because they may abuse their power, and refuse their consent on that very account.
Delegates unanimously agreed to providing amendments, but postponed the decision on assent of the national legislature.
12. June 29th. The amendment provision was now numbered Resolution 17. It read: Resolved that provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union whensoever it shall seem necessary. For now, the question of which entities may propose amendments went unanswered.<
Judge Oliver Ellsworth brought up the amendment process during the stalemate on representation in the Senate. Both Ellsworth and James Madison cautioned delegates to continue to thrash out an acceptable solution. Experience in the states had shown that it was extremely difficult to correct well known defects in their constitutions. The duty of the federal convention was to do their best, to design the best government the people would accept, and not rely on drastic changes after the government was put into effect.
17. What emerged from extensive committee work on August 6th as Article XIX read as: On application of the legislatures of two thirds of the States in the Union, for an amendment, of this constitution, the legislature of the United States shall call a convention for that purpose.
An amendment, and for that purpose, are singular and imply that amendment conventions were strictly limited to one amendment.
Article XIX passed the convention on August 30th. It provided no amendatory input from Congress, and left the states to draft the amendment at the convention. Congress purpose was ministerial, to call a convention upon application of two thirds of the state legislatures. Also of note is the absence of a ratification process.
After motions from James Wilson, Roger Sherman, and James Madison, Article XIX was modified once again and passed unanimously as: "The Legislature of the U. S. whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem necessary, or on the application of two thirds of the Legislatures of the several States, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part thereof, when the same shall have been ratified by three fourths at least of the Legislatures of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Legislature of the U S:"
In this version, Congress chooses the method of ratification. 20. Of far greater importance, singular use of an amendment was dropped, and replaced with amendments which could only originate from Congress. This of course turned the starting resolution of May 29th on its head, for the Virginia Plan specifically denied involvement, let alone assent of Congress, to amendments. 21. On September 12th, the Committee of Style submitted its report. The amendment provision was finally referred to as Article V:
"The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem necessary, or on the application of two thirds of the Legislatures of the several States shall propose amendments to this Constitution, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part thereof, when the same shall have been ratified by three fourths at least of the Legislatures of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year 1808 shall in any manner affect the 1 & 4 clauses in the 9. section of article 1."
This version, like the last, required all amendments to be proposed by Congress.
On September 15th, George Mason went ballistic. An oppressive Congress would prevent the people from making, or even proposing amendments. This was utterly subversive to the fundamental rights and liberties of the people.
24. The convention acceded to Masons objection on the last day of debate, September 15th.
Final form of Article V: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
Unfortunately a bit late.. the American Constitution has become an after thought..
Civics and American History have not been taught in American Federal public schools for a long while...
Doubt many even know or care about the Constitution..
Of those that do.. most seem to be Apathetic...
A few old timers get their teeth on edge but their OLDER than dirt..
Whine a lot.. but not willing to make an actual revolution.. over it..
Some have heard of a Constitution but don’t actually know what it “IS”...
Actually a brilliant gambit by the Fabian Socialists to make that happen.. IT WORKED..
All started when schools became federal..
It really IS that simple.
Too many beautiful trees go unseen ... and they keep planting more and more weeds to obscure the vision.
On a dark stormy night years and years ago...
The leaders of ALL Ivy League Schools started chasing Utopian Unicorns.. i.e. socialism
and have never really stopped..
To wit: most all lawyers have become Unicorn Hunters..
AND most politicians are Lawyers..
An Ivy League Snipe Hunt.. AND that’s the way it “IS”....
Why bother, when you won’t bother upholding the Constitution you have. Clinton Impeachment Prosecutor, DEM David Schippers, revealed it was the Senate GOP leadership that squelched 90% of the counts and sealed them for 50 years.
>>> “Why bother, when you wont bother upholding the Constitution you have.”
Nonsense. The vast vast majority, almost all, issues of the Constitution that are held in court are upheld. The ones that are not make it to the news giving the impression that the Constitution is irrelevant.
>>> “Clinton Impeachment Prosecutor, DEM David Schippers, revealed it was the Senate GOP leadership that squelched 90% of the counts and sealed them for 50 years”
That Senate GOP Leader was former democrat Trent Lott from the corrupt state of Mississippi. He is no longer in the Senate for a reason. For you to pull that example out of your butt shows you’re pathetic.
Double excellent post. Very informative and necessary.
Thank you very much.
The Trolls are out in force today of course.
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